Some 10 million students across Madhya Pradesh performed sun salutations for 90 minutes on Monday to mark Swami Vivekananda’s 152nd birth anniversary in line with the BJP government’s drive to push ahead with the programme despite opposition from minority organisations.
The surya namaskar, or sun salutation, has been embroiled in a religious wrangle after right-wing Hindu organisations pitched it as part of their programmes to celebrate Vivekananda’s birth anniversary. Some Muslim and Christian organisations said the plan could divide students along religious lines. Muslim organisations have threatened to go to court if the programme was made compulsory.
Madhya Pradesh education officials said around 10 million students from classes five to 12 performed the exercise in state-run and private schools. There were reports of children fainting during the programme held between 11am and 12.30pm. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the exercise was optional and asked people not to give it any religious colour.
In Mumbai, many schools didn’t include surya namaskar in their programmes. Instead, they lined up cooking festivals using solar energy and debating contests. Bandra Hindu Association High School will hold a cooking festival on January 15. Swami Vivekananda School, Chembur, held a mass yoga event.